Ad Watchdog Asks Comcast To Stop Bragging That Xfinity Is “Fastest In The Nation”

Despite an FCC study showing Verizon FiOS with the fastest download speeds, Comcast’s ads for its Xfinity internet service proudly claim that it’s the “fastest in the nation.” Now the Better Business Bureau’s ad watchdog has recommended that the Kabletown folks stop being so boastful.

The BBB’s National Advertising Division said it would be more accurate for Comcast to label Xfinity as “one of the fastest” or “the fastest internet option for most consumers in its service areas where competitor Verizon FiOS service is not available.”

The big problem here for the NAD is the very survey that Comcast uses to back up its claim.

In its ads, Comcast cites this August 2011 PC Magazine survey that did have Comcast with the fastest overall download speed — but with one huge asterisk.

See, the PC Mag survey does not differentiate between Verizon’s FiOS customers and its DSL customers. Instead, it presented an average of all Verizon ISP customers.

“It’s clear that FiOS’s speed floats Verizon above the rest,” the magazine wrote at the time.

Additionally, the download speeds for PC Mag’s other top performers, Cox (18.51 Mbps) and Charter (18.34 Mbps) were virtually indistinguishable from Comcast’s 18.64 Mbps. And Cox actually had a higher up speed (4.8 Mbps) than Comcast (3.94 Mbps).

After looking at the numbers, the NAD took issue with the following advertising claims made by Comcast:
• “XFINITY is the fastest Internet service provider in the nation according to PC Mag.”
• “It’s official. We’re the fastest.”
• “the fastest downloads available.”
• “FiOS Does Not Live up to Expectations….With Speeds of Up to 105 Mbps, XFINITY was rated as the fastest Internet provider in the nation by PC Magazine.”

From the NAD statement:

NAD has previously determined that Comcast cannot, based on its current offerings, make an unqualified claim in national advertising to be faster than the competition. NAD noted that while Comcast is the fastest Internet option for 94 percent of the 52 million households in its competitive footprint, it is not the fastest where FiOS is available.

In a statement to NAD, Comcast said it will “take NAD’s recommendations into account in formulating its future advertising.”

Which, according to our completely fictional Kabletown-to-English dictionary, seems to translate into something about being glad that the Better Business Bureau has no real authority over advertising.



Edit Your Comment

  1. Gman says:

    Comcast: “One Of The highest Internet Speeds In Your Area”*

    *Not like you will ever see that speed and if you do we will throttle you down to a more “reasonable” speed because you are not allowed to use up your full bandwith allotment for any length of time.

  2. hennese says:

    Really? Charter claims the same thing here…. I think they ALL claim it.

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      I twas just going to say the same thing.

      Billboards proclaiming it and everything.

      They’re all a bunch of LYING HEATHENS!

  3. gman863 says:

    True Slogan:

    “Face it. Xfinity sucks. It’s just that our speed sucks less than most of our competition.”

    • Gman says:

      Fixed it for you:

      “”Face it. Xfinity sucks. It’s just that our speed is really the only choice you have in your area due to exclusivity agreements, so like it or go back to dailup.”

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        “Face it: you live in the boonies and we’re never going to pay attention to you anyway, you stupid non-urban-area-dwelling 20% of Americans.”

        • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

          Exactly where I live. No one gives a hoot.

  4. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I just wish that Charter would stop using their “International Dateline” ad campaign. So fucking annoying.

    Up to “105 mpbs” looks good on paper vs a theoretical 100 from Fios, but given Comcast’s reputation, I wouldn’t believe it.

    • MCerberus says:

      What’s worse about that stupid thing is here (and if you don’t know, St. Louis is actually a giant financial and corporate hub) they’re advertising 20mb/s as BLAZING FAST.

      Apparently a sprawling suburb that was deemed important enough to be one of the first 4g test beds isn’t cool enough for charter to do anything than offer up to 20% of what you could have gotten elsewhere.

    • CubeRat says:

      I just keep waiting for the ‘Worst Ads in America’ campaign this year. I plan to nominate that ad series. These are so bad, I especially hate how they reinforce the “American are stupid’ cliche. We have enough idiots doing that already, we don’t need advertisers to also do it.

  5. dolemite says:

    FiOS is available in very limited areas. Basically just major metropolitan areas and a few outliers, and they don’t exactly seem to be rolling it out with zest.

  6. nishioka says:

    “the fastest internet option for most consumers in its service areas where competitor Verizon FiOS service is not available”

    Hah, I can imagine them trying to work THAT into an ad…

    • TheOnlyBob says:

      i see it at realllllllllly small print at the bottom of the ad. But only flashed for 3 seconds.

  7. ap0 says:

    There’s always confusion because the site you’re using isn’t maxing out your theoretical throughput cap that you’re not getting that level of service. Just because you’re not pulling down massive speed at all times doesn’t mean it’s your ISP’s fault. There could be issues with the server you’re downloading from, or any other point along the way back to your PC.

    I pay for the Comcast Blast service, which is 30mbps. I reliably get 32-33mbps on using servers close to me, indicating that the line is actually capable of receiving that much data. If I move to a server a few states away, that number drops. The further I go, usually the further it drops. If I do a server on the east coast (I’m on the west coast), I usually see 8-10mbps. It could be an issue with Comcast’s backbone, but it could also be a problem with Level3/AT&T/HE/other backbone providers around the country.

    I think the whole idea of being “the fastest” is pretty stupid considering that there are so many factors that determine one’s speed. The one thing they should focus on is theoretical throughput from their headend to your cable modem — the one thing they can control. Comcast generally delivers on that front (I know, not everyone is that lucky with them). Their peering arrangements/national backbone/etc. contribute to slower speeds and a lot of that stuff is out of their control.

    • scoosdad says:

      I’m lucky that my benchmark server I always use for checking my line just happens to be at my local cable headend, so that’s exactly what I’m testing– only the speed of my connection within their network. As you point out, that’s a better test of your true speed because once you’re out of their network, anything can happen. I’m always pleased to see that I’m getting just slightly more than the speed my cable modem is provisioned for that way, and it certainly won’t get any faster than that benchmark. It can only go down beyond that point.

    • d0x360 says:

      Best way to test your connection is Usenet. It always maxes any connection speed you can throw at it.

  8. soj4life says:

    Well atleast verizon has stopped putting dsl under their fios brandname.

  9. d0x360 says:

    I HAD.Comcast then I switched to fios. Fios is so much faster its laughable. Not only that but picture quality on their HD channels is superior too. Every time I hear that commercial I wonder why they haven’t been sued for false advertising yet

  10. dush says:

    Comcast is the fastest Internet connection among the Internet connections you have if you use Comcast.

  11. Jerem43 says:

    Verizon is offering 200Mb service in my town, at $200/month, while Comcast tops out at 30Mb or so. In the town I used to live in, RCN and Verizon were offering speeds up to 150Mb while Comcast topped out at 28Mb. I would take RCN or Verizon any day.

  12. kathygnome says:

    I still don’t get what the big deal on speed is anyway. Even the lowly 12mbps service is a huge volume. How many HD streams are people downloading at the same time in a single house anyway?The overall data caps on the consumer service are a far bigger issue.

  13. buftar says:

    I forget how we got on this topic, but my high school physics teacher humorously pointed out that when a pain reliever advertises that “no other pain reliever works better”, all they are saying is that they work just as well as any other pain reliever…they don’t necessarily work BETTER, just AS WELL as anything else you can get.

    Wait, what were we talking about?

  14. No Fat Chicks says:

    PCWORLD magazine proclaimed Charter as the fastest ISP in the nation last year with their 100MEG internet.

  15. Dave B. says:

    “the PC Mag survey does not differentiate between Verizon’s FiOS customers and its DSL customers. Instead, it presented an average of all Verizon ISP customers”

    Who wants to bet that this “survey” was sponsored by Comcast? Here’s your money PC Mag survey people. Oh… when you check Verizon, you need to average all their services so we look better.

  16. j2.718ff says:

    Enough of calling them “Kabletown”, please! I had to look it up in wikipedia just to figure out wtf you were talking about. Seriously, let’s be professional here, and refer to a company by their actual name, and not the name of a fictional company on tv.

    • Weighted Companion Cube says:

      The real name was in the headline and referenced multiple times in the article. Kabletown every once in a while is perfectly fine. I get a chuckle out of that reference.

  17. AgostoBehemoth says:

    I had Comcast. Then I switched to FiOS. I gotta say, the FiOS service is just better. The speed is rock solid all day long.

  18. Brainphart says: